Do you remember Yavkata from our first TV commercial? One of the most recognizable and impressive personages on the small screen who runs a fascinating, unconventional, but also very inspiring business. Yavor Denchev is striding confidently on his way to achieve his mission – to spark children’s interest in science through gripping and entertaining science classes.
We made Yavor’s acquaintance a little over a year ago. At the time, his idea was yet to be developed and he had no website. Now, almost a year later, Yavkata keeps growing his business. Thanks to his website (dnklab.eu), his customers get in touch with him quickly and easily. Let’s find out what has changed over the last year in Yavor’s professional life, what challenges he is facing now and how he keeps going along with fulfilling his dreams!
1. Hi, Yavor! We introduced you at the beginning of the interview but how would you introduce yourself to our readers?
I usually say that I am Yavor from DNK – Children’s Science Class – even though most kids call me Mr. Yavor. They confuse me with a magician and I am ashamed to admit how clumsy actually I am sometimes. Some kids dubbed me the King of Mess because when we perform experiments, I often spill and pour liquids, smear and dirty things. Still, I think that this is what’s so fascinating about the things I do. In my science classes, students are allowed to get filthy and grimy (of course in the end we clean up the whole mess). Thus we are free to experiment and to have fun while studying.
On a more serious note, I have obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Victoria, Canada. Thanks to my interest in science, I have worked at laboratories across Bulgaria, Germany and Canada. I’ve experience in gene expression and growing plant tissue cultures, I have worked on projects in fields such as immunology and the molecular basis for pathogenic bacteria propagation.
Science however has never been my only interest. Throughout my university years, I dabbled in music, shot science educational videos for students, enrolled in theatre classes. I even hosted children’s parties (something I started in Bulgaria one summer while I was studying and I missed it during my stay in Canada). When I realized I was able to combine science and working with children, my everyday life became a string of exploding flasks, kids smiling and a feeling of genuine belonging.
2. We met for the first time a little over a year ago. What were Yavor and his business like before we met?
Yavor was rushing from class to class and was teeming with ideas of experiments and pranks through which the experiments had to be presented and DNK was just emerging as a business on the market. Frankly speaking, I was genuinely surprised when I got contacted about the commercial. It seemed unreal. Up till then, things were happening by word of mouth, with the help of inspired children and parents, teacher colleagues and Facebook.
3. What has changed for you over the last year?
A year later, I have much more to rush for and I feel that 24 hours in a day are barely enough. People recognize me. Kids (kids I’ve never met before) sometimes exclaim: “I saw you on TV!”
Parents greet me by asking: “Do you have a website already?”
It was especially funny when a parent once asked: “Do you offer the one from the commercial?”
They were talking about a birthday party.
A colleague of mine working at an English nursery school told me that when she opened her mobile, she saw me “on top of Kim Kardashian”. She literally said, “And then I see Yavor on top of Kim Kardashian”. What she meant was SuperHosting’s ad with me – it had appeared over another one with Kim Kardashian. To cut the long story short, I’ve become much more famous. To be honest, the feeling is very pleasant but what’s more important is that many people found out about my initiative, about the classes and science.
And this goes hand in hand with the interest in my business. People invite me to participate in various entertaining educational events and festivals. The greater the number of people knowing what cool things we do at DNK, the more opportunities for advancement we get, thus becoming better and better professionals and more able to teach an ever increasing number of children and make them happy.
4. Everyone, who knows you, is aware that your mission is to spark children’s interest in science through entertaining scientific demonstrations. How do you actually achieve this? What is the most exciting and memorable scientific demonstration that you have performed?
When you find the time please watch my talk on TEDxVitosha. I wasn’t able to explain everything in 15 minutes but I made “grown-ups” laugh and sparked their interest in science. At this video we don’t burn nitrocellulose, nor we attempt to marry you off to Trabcho, the Trabi SuperHero, who suffers from dry ice hypertension and pees his pants in the process. No volcanoes will be erupting either but if I need to put this in a few words, children’s interest is kindled when what you are presenting before them is meaningful and performed in an impressive way with a pinch of humor and a touch of mystery so they start asking themselves how things happen.
It is necessary that children get the chance to do something by themselves, to be left to follow their innate curiosity and to explore their questions and ideas. One can’t find a more valuable educational system that this one as it is sustainable. When a child has a particular interest and is encouraged to pursue it, to ask questions and look for answers, to think logically and create freely, then I know I have done my job well.
As to the most exciting or memorable demonstration…, that’s a tough question. Everything is exciting but depends on how you present it. Perhaps the most memorable demonstrations are the ones where something goes wrong or a surprising change to the interior comes about. What better way to explain to nursery-age children why dinosaurs died out due to a volcanic eruption than by causing a chemical reaction leading to the emission of smoke. Well, the fact that the ceiling turned out to be unexpectedly low and as a result was blackened only served to consolidate the idea. The following year, the spot was painted over but the children’s memory was just as vivid.
We have caused volcanoes to erupt and spew smoke to the ceiling, once we brought down a dropped ceiling with plumes of liquid nitrogen. All of these are exciting things which teach us and the children in the best possible way, i.e. through practice. We create unforgettable memories and solid knowledge while having fun. We also leave a personal imprint.
5. You took part in a TV commercial of ours with your own existing business. Which were the most vivid moments on the set and what feelings are they going to stir when you look back on them?
I won’t forget how excited I was as I have always dreamed of doing film art in any form. Stepping into that huge hall, the silence that had to be kept, all the equipment, props, the team—everything was surreal. I couldn’t wait and I was in a state of utmost stupor but desire prevailed and I did not caught fire.
However, I very clearly remember how I almost destroyed a projector costing tens of thousands of BGN. It turned out that over the chair I was sitting in for the shooting there was an enormous projector that created the whole ambience on the film set. You remember what I mentioned above about volcanoes and the lasting traces I leave behind on ceilings, don’t you? This projector turned out to be quite pricey, so I remembered to warn in a timely manner that our eruptions sometimes go quite high.
In the commercial, you can see a volcano that erupts gently and slowly from its flask. What you can’t see is the previous retake where another one erupted, shot out of frame, slammed into the cover they installed overhead to protect the projector in question, and then crashed back onto the table. 5 seconds on, the second portion of foam that stuck to the cover overhead exploded. In short: it was quite adventurous.
It turned out that I knew some members of the team. One of them was the father of a child enrolled in a nursery school where I was teaching. Apart from the professional shots, we took some personal ones as well. Everything was thrilling and unforgettable. And since I am a child deep down in my heart, I want to do it again. 😊
6. What role does your website play when it comes to business development and opportunities?
At the beginning, I didn’t think I needed a website as I primarily used Facebook for advertising purposes. It turned out I was wrong. Terribly wrong. No matter how good Facebook might be, it has its limitations and drawbacks. Having my own website enabled me to post and show people what we do at DNK, which, added to my daily posts on Facebook, proved invaluable. I began receiving event requests through the website contact form and currently most of my clients reach me through my website. It was a pleasure to renew my hosting subscription a month ago.
7. The hardest part of creating your own website is choosing a name. How did you choose dnklab.eu?
After coming up with multiple not good enough names it turned out that DNK (DNA) is quite a popular name – something I wasn’t aware of. So I decided that dnklab.eu would be perfect match. It sounds good and reflects what we do. What’s important – it is short, easy to type and recognizable. When I saw it wasn’t taken I didn’t think twice – I took it. One of the advantages of this domain extension (.eu) is that I can build brand awareness for my business across whole Europe.
8. What would you advise people who are confronted with the hard decision what domain name to choose for their website?
I recommend they choose something which shows customers what the idea, the essence or the core focus of the business are. It is advisable that it should be short and easy to remember. And of course, you should like the way it sounds when you articulate it for your customers. Pronounce it a few times in front of the mirror and over the phone. Thus you will get a sense of how it makes you feel and how people would react when hearing it.
9. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge when starting your own business?
It’s hard to determine a single biggest challenge. It heavily depends on what stage of development is your business. In the beginning, having a clear idea and a good product/service is fundamental. However, if this is already in place and you have coped with all the red flags around setting up your own business, you need to market your product – how your wonderful idea is going to gain traction on the market and how it will reach the right people who would love to work with you.
Marketing and advertising, website management, social media presence, promotional activities, customer relations and partnerships – to a non-specialist all these may turn out to be a daunting challenge and may impede the success of even the most brilliant projects. If your business grows, you reach the stage when you need to hire and retain top-notch talent, put in place adequate work conditions and standardize training and work procedures. Perhaps the hardest part is not to get lost and always to remember why you started your business in the first place.
Moreover, it is important to pay enough attention to your family.
I myself face many of these issues and I think that if I share them, someone else might feel a bit more self-confident and at ease. Now you know that we are on the same path. We are not alone in our thorny journey, nor in our dreams and aspirations.
10. What would you tell people who want to have their own business but have not yet mustered the courage to take the first step?
The feeling of building something on your own and watch it develop through sleepless nights and success is unlike anything else. If you want your voice to be heard, you have something to share and would like things to depend on you this time, take the first step. It’s worth it. When I was starting my business my child was born. This didn’t make things easier. Quite the contrary! But everything became even more meaningful. I was doing something that was worth it. Something that I’m dreaming my daughter will inherit one day. Until then I will provide a positive impetus to science education at school for her and all other children.
11. What other projects are you planning ahead?
You will find us at science festivals in Sofia with our favorite slimes and a number of other interesting new show programs and interactive laboratories. Our birthdays have become magnificent performances with music and spectacular lighting effects. For the rest of the parties and events we preserved the one-of-a-kind format that is emblematic to DNK – Science Comedy. Now we don’t only organize single events but also module-based courses (chemistry, biology, physics) for pupils of different ages: from nursery school to fourth-graders.
We introduced classes for children and parents, more specifically for fathers. As a father myself, I realize how central my role is in my child’s development and I want more fathers and parents in general to take an active role in their children’s education, development and everyday life. Our children’s and dad’s classes are a very interesting form of communication between children and their parents in a new environment with new and exciting opportunities.
Throughout the school year, we keep organizing extra-curricular classes at kindergartens and schools. This year we will be organizing a children’s summer camp in collaboration with (Place for Development—Little Grown-ups). We keep growing and we are happy that you are part of our initiative. Choose DNK and discover the science running through your veins!
After those sincere words, we feel SuperMotivated and inspired. How else could it be?
We firmly believe that Yavor’s journey and experience inspired you with more courage. Be brave and take the first step in starting your own business. We will always be there to help you with the implementation of your online presence. Take a deep breath: Breathe in confidence, breathe out any fear. Now think of the most suitable name for your project right now.
Check if the best name for your website has been taken and register it before someone else takes it.
Start your online presence and grow your idea into a successful business!